James Conlon to Lead Pittance Chamber Music in Saturday Matinee at Zipper Hall

Conductor James Conlon
(photo courtesy Susan Gordon)

Pittance Chamber Music returns to Zipper Hall this Saturday for a 3 pm concert curated and conducted by LA Opera Director James Conlon. Entitled A Tale of Two Emigres, the program focuses on two major figures of 20th century music, Arnold Schoenberg and Erich Korngold, both Jewish composers who fled Europe during the second World War and settled in Los Angeles. Led by LA Opera Assistant Concertmaster Lisa Sutton and featuring members of the opera’s orchestra, Pittance is one of the great values in Los Angeles classical music, presenting a thoughtful selection of music for $10 in an intimate setting instead of the $100+ you would expect to pay to hear these same musicians at the opera.

The two composers took divergent paths stylistically in their later works. Schoenberg is today synonymous with the 12-tone method of composition he developed in his later work, while Korngold went on to become one of the first major composers of music for Hollywood films. Pairing an early work by each composer, Korngold’s Sextet, Op. 10 and Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony No.1, Op. 9, Conlon and Pittance will present two pieces unified by the influence of late romanticism.

Maestro Conlon has always taken a keen interest in the music of the Jewish diaspora. His Recovered Voices series has presented many rare works by Jewish composers displaced by the Nazis, including some written and performed in concentration camps. Schoenberg and Korngold are much better known, but these two works are nonetheless lightly performed due, in Sutton’s words, to the “unique instrumentation” of the Schoenberg and the “extremely demanding, complex” nature of the Korngold, both “requiring a high level of virtuosity from the performers.”

Pittance Chamber Music, A Tale of Two Emigres. Saturday, June 15th, 3 pm. Zipper Hall, 200 Grand Ave, Los Angeles. $10. www.PittanceChamberMusic.org

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